If I ever decide to pursue a second career in agronomy, I hope my professors are as dedicated as Desiderio Flores. Desiderio teaches classes in botany, weed control, and forage production at Carmen Pampa University, a Cross Catholic-sponsored school that is bringing educational opportunities to poor, indigenous communities in rural Bolivia.
When we met up with Desiderio on the Carmen Pampa campus, he talked about his relationship with his students and what he hopes to achieve.
He told us: “I look at them as if they were my children. I see they have a lot of needs, because they come from families similar to the family situation I grew up in. I had a really hard time economically as a student. I lost my mom when I was 6. My father was a miner for the state mining company. I saw how much my father suffered to take care of me and my little sister without a mother. So I studied really hard and finally was successful and became a professor of agronomy.”
How hard are the lives of his students? “Sometimes they don’t know when they’re going to get money, or what they are going to be eating the next day, and that can be a reason for students to fall into bad habits, like drinking.”
The solution? Although the farming skills they are learning are important, “it goes way beyond teaching students how to be a good agronomist. It’s about being a good person and being responsible…Being a professional doesn’t mean you are looking for a lot of money. Obviously you want to live with dignity, but you need to be concerned with your spiritual and personal growth, and I want to see that in all my students so they don’t forget to help their communities and families and the whole region.”
The result? “I’ve seen great changes in the students and great maturity, and that’s really satisfying, knowing they came from a situation similar to mine.”
Kudos to Desiderio for being a good role model to his students, and for planting the seeds for a better future.